Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Treats Day 23: Candy!!!

I big fat puffy heart love making candy during Christmas. The components to my candy trays have varied throughout the years, but I've decided to include the recipes I made this year.

The picture above is last year's tray. This year they were very similar, but I added my English Toffee recipe to the mix.

Note: Several of my recipes call for almond bark. You do NOT need to use the double boiler method. Simply, place necessary amount of almond bark in a microwave-safe dish (preferably glass). Microwave for 90 seconds and stir. Microwave for another 90 seconds and stir. If it is not smooth, continue microwaving and stirring in 30 seconds increments until smooth and completely melted. It is much quicker than using the double boiler method. The package may also come with microwaving instructions, so feel free to take a peek at them. However, I do not recommend microwaving in the trays that some almond bark is packaged in. Hopefully this saves you a lot of time and hassle.


Peanut Butter Balls:
3 sticks oleo (margarine), softened
1 (18 oz.) jar creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 pounds powdered sugar
Chocolate almond bark OR 12 oz. milk chocolate chips, 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips, and 1/2 or 3/4 stick paraffin wax

Cream together margarine and peanut butter with a hand mixer. Slowly add in powdered sugar mixing well between each addition. With the last bit of powdered sugar, stir in the vanilla too. Chill at least 2 hours then roll into small balls. Chill for another hour or two before dipping. Melt the almond bark or chocolate and wax mixture; dip peanut butter balls. Place dipped balls on wax paper and chill to set.

*I always use almond bark for dipping. It is less expensive and prevents the wax taste. Also, feel free to use white chocolate almond bark in place of chocolate. I make both for the candy trays.


Coconut Balls (mock Almond Joy):
1 (14 oz) package shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Chocolate almond bark OR 12 oz. chocolate chips and 1/8 to 1/4 bar paraffin wax

Mix together coconut and milk, using a wooden spoon. Let chill for at least 2 hours and roll into small balls. Chill for another hour or two before dipping. Melt almond bark and dip coconut balls. Place on waxed paper and chill to set.


Peppermint Bark:
1 pound white chocolate almond bark
9 oz. candy canes, crushed (small ones work best)
1 tsp peppermint extract, optional

Line a sheet pan with foil. Melt almond bark in the microwave. Stir in extract until well incorporated. Add in candy canes and pour onto prepared pan. Chill until set; break into small pieces.


Turtle Pretzels:
Square (windowpane) pretzels
Rolo candies
Pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with foil. Place square pretzels on foil-lined pan leaving some space between each pretzels. Next, top with a Rolo. Bake for 3-4 minutes or until chocolate is glossy and slightly melting. Remove from oven and immediately press a pecan half onto each pretzels.


Hugs or Kisses Pretzels:
Round (or bow tie) pretzels
Hershey's Hugs or Kisses candies

The instructions are very similar to the Turtle Pretzels. Line a pan with foil and spread out pretzels. Place a Kiss or Hug in the center of each pretzel. Bake at 350 for 3-4 minutes or until glossy and melting. Remove from oven and immediately press an M&M onto the center (tip of Kiss/Hug).

My favorite for these are the Candy Cane Kisses with red or green M&M's. It makes them look and taste more festive.


2 cups chocolate chips
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 small (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla

Line an 8x8" square pan with foil, extending foil over the edges. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow, milk, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil; boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips and pour into foil-lined pan. Cool to room temperature; refrigerate until firm. Use foil to lift fudge from pan. Cut into pieces; store in an airtight container at room temperature.

*Can use any flavor of chips: mint, white chocolate, butterscotch, chocolate, or peanut butter. May also add 1 cup chopped walnuts to make nutty fudge.

*May make a double-decker fudge by placing 1 cup each of 2 different flavored chips in separate bowls. Once you stir in vanilla; pour half the mixture over one flavor of chips stirring until chips melt. Quickly spread into prepared pan. Pour remaining mixture over second flavor of chips and stir until melted. Quickly and carefully spread over first layer.


Peanut Clusters:
1 pound chocolate or white chocolate almond bark
2-3 small cans of peanuts (don't use honey roasted or Spanish)

Melt almond bark and stir in peanuts. Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper and allow to set until firm.

*I struggle with knowing how much I use because I usually buy a large can of peanuts and guess until it is the right consistency. There should be an almost equal amount of peanuts and chocolate, so they don't get too runny (too much chocolate) or dry (too many peanuts).

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